TODAY -

Euphoria of privacy as fundamental right

Free Thinker *



A man is peeing in a deserted area behind a tree and if another man comes and perform a similar act under the next tree, whether it amounts to violation of privacy? This question was put on me when I was at the Bar. I told him frankly that now the Apex Court has to decide on case to case basis.

Even though I am a law graduate from a renown University my legal and Constitutional knowledge is very crunchy as I had read only Dukey (Kunji /Champion/Key to Success) and a few xeroxed notes collected from my seniors. Again I often bunked classes due to unavoidable circumstances and compelling situations.

Despite all these odds I still have a fundamental right to form an opinion on privacy right ( now a fundamental right) conferred upon us by the 9 learned judges of the Federal Court; to me it seems more decorative and scholastic.

I was shocked when a machine wishes me ‘happy birthday’ before my wife gets up and hug me for the day. The machine might have collected my birthday information either from my Pan Card or Aadhaar, or from my bank account or my mobile-service-provider or from the internet.

Here the most pertinent issue is that in this globalizing cyber environment can one be left alone in the name of privacy? Can Apex Court protect me from the infringement on my privacy by the technology or machines? Once you are linked with any of the technology based on internet your privacy is gone. In the name of protecting privacy can we live in isolation without modern equipments and technology? Certainly not.

Perhaps the entire nation is celebrating the privacy verdict of the Apex Court. Until and unless it is struck down by the Court itself or scarp it by a competent legislation it will remain the Law of the land. If I understand correctly now our privacy rights shall dwell within Article 12 to 35 (Fundamental Rights ) specially linking with Article 21 which provides for protection to life and liberty.

Today the global technology is so advanced that the Americans know what Putin is drinking right now. And at the same time the Russians know the color and type of underwear Trump is wearing at the moment. When the Pentagon can be hacked then what kind of protection are we to provide to our citizens biometrics data? Technologically also we are dependent on others.

Under Natural law and jurisprudence privacy may be located in any of the following domains of an individual – physical (body), idea, informational, decisional, proprietary, associational, personal practices , habits, diseases, etc.

If any of these rights is infringed upon by man or machine or the State the individual has a right to seek protection or seek remedial measures. It will be mind boggling if a machine or technology trespasses your privacy and you are trying to find a remedy, legal or otherwise.

In the recent past we came across the story of an erstwhile Imperialist power where the government was forced by their Supreme Court to withdraw their National Security Number for citizens due to serious discrepancies and duplications. Thus a huge citizen’s biometrics data project had to be abandoned. Millions of pound had been wasted just for the sake of protecting privacy and individual liberty. Wow ! what a liberal democracy?

Driven by curiosity I asked a practicing Supreme Court lawyer-friend whether all the Lawyers and Judges have made their Aadhaar cards . He giggled and said Aadhaar is meant for getting the facilities and amenities of the government so we don’t need it.

My supplementary query was, “whether he has linked Pan with Aadhaar, Bank Account with Aadhaar and IT returns with Aadhaar”? Since we don’t have Aadhaar how can we link, he replied. He has a point. But Aadhaar is perhaps made mandatory for the tax payers.

Whether Judges or advocates don’t pay taxes or what? As of today Income Tax can be paid or IT returns can be filed without Aadhaar , he retorted. He also added that Aadhaar matter is still sub judice. A lawyer without an Aadhaar is fighting the Aadhaar case in the Court.

Google knows almost everything about us (netizens); we have already lost our privacy? Can we retrieve or regain our privacy? or Can we ask Google to annihilate our personal private data?

I would like to conclude my murmur of the day by quoting Prof Upendra Baxi “what rights citizens may have is finally for the apex court to say but what is not permissible for anyone to demote them to the status of mere subjects.” Citizens are not supposed to be mere subjects of Google or Anyone. But, is there any way out?


* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on September 27, 2017.


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